Do you feel healthy?

Soccer girlphoto © 2010 Ernst Vikne | more info (via: Wylio)

Really, ask yourself that question. I am not asking you whether you have a flat stomach or a well toned body. I am not asking you whether you conform to society’s, your family’s or your friends’ idea of  what a healthy and fit person should be like. I am asking you whether YOU feel lively and energetic throughout the day, do YOU feel your body is physically capable of doing things you want to do, as good as any normal person?

Growing up, most of us get a ready made account of what constitutes good health, first from our family and then, from society. Most of us try to fit into the the accepted category of weights, heights and BMIs.

What is your definition of health.

A lot of us take health to be the absence of diseases and having a well toned body. If you find this definition OK, read on.

While this might be a correct interpretation of what health is, it is a negative interpretation.The inherent, unconscious focus in this definition is on avoiding diseases and complying to generally conceived norms of a fit body. A person going by these ideas is, essentially, in fear of getting any diseases and in fear of non-conformity with generally accepted ideas of fitness.

Here is my definition of health : A constant feeling of well being.

Let me explain this. Both definitions above are true and ultimately reach out for the same final state – feeling good about your health. But your focus on one over the other will determine whether you approach it with a negative or a positive attitude, and ultimately, it will determine your happiness.

By my definition, if you have a disease but still feel positive and happy, you are healthy. You have already said no to the disease in your mind. You are on your way out of the disease!

Cultivate positive emotions and root out negative ones to feel healthy.

In my humble experience, and according to some eastern philosophies, health is very deeply coupled with our mental state. If one goes down, it takes the other down with it. This also means that, if one is getting down and you can’t find the reason behind it, you can look at the other for clues, fix what you find there and have the first one get better automatically!

Everyone knows how a disease tends to bring your mood down. Its also known to a lot of people that, in such cases, trying to keep a positive attitude helps tremendously. Maybe you can try this the next time. For example, if you have a bad stomach, you can ask yourself some questions like – Am I ‘stressed’ out? Was I ‘afraid’ in the morning of getting late for office and just gulped down something? When I had those chocolates, did I eat them with a feeling of ‘guilt’? etc. Once you can isolate certain negative feelings you are harboring, try to focus on getting rid of them. See how this affects your health.

A lot of overweight people have a feeling of inferiority, more than that, a lot of, not so overweight people have a fear of getting overweight. I have seen some overweight people who look very healthy, very energetic. Look around for examples, do all the overweight people you know, have diseases? Are all the, seemingly fit people you know, free of diseases? Is it real energy they feel or they are just trying to conform, or keep up a happy, energetic front?

I find that being healthy, or fit, or happy doesn’t depend on whether you fit a certain mold, rather, its the other way round! When you focus on being happy and strive to feel healthy and good about your body, you tend to move towards that mold. It was NOT an aim that you aspired for, but a ‘side effect’ of your effort to feel happy, a welcome side effect.

Here are the attitudes to cultivate in the three important area affecting your health :

1. Food – Don’t eat with guilt, eat mindfully. One common guilt people have about eating habits is of eating the wrong type of foods or eating too much. Guilt is a negative emotion and is bound to cause more trouble. Instead of eating with guilt try to eat mindfully. All I am asking is to totally enjoy each bite you take. Isn’t that what you feel like doing with your food? enjoy it? Well then go ahead and enjoy it fully. Take each bite and close your eyes, chew it slowly and enjoy the tastes and flavors. When you feel you can’t enjoy the taste any more, your needs, both for nutrition and the good taste, are satisfied.

When you start doing this, you notice that, over time, you tend to enjoy more and eat less. Beware! Don’t start out looking for this to happen, you would be acting out of ‘want’. Just enjoy! Enjoy mindfully. Savor. With time, you also develop the tendency to eat foods that just satisfy your needs and keep your mind calm. Things that are too exciting, like burgers and fries, deep fried food tend to appear less appealing.

2. Exercise – Exercise to feel good. Don’t exercise to loose weight or get toned up. Exercise to enjoy, do whatever physical activity you like, dance, sports whatever. Enjoy it. With exercise, a very important point is being regular at it. Being regular, being disciplined is easier when you love the activity. In time, you will reach your unique optimum level of health, of fitness and well being. You will find yourself closer to the mold. Maybe not quite it, you might still look over-weight or under-weight, but that is OK. Everybody has a different ‘comfortable weight’.

3. Sleep – Sleep well and sleep regular, your body deserves it. This is also a matter of attitude. Respect your body’s needs. A lot of people sleeping less, do so because they don’t want to waste time. They want to do more and more stuff. They fear loosing time or getting left behind. Avoid this negative mindset. This will bring down your health and your performance in the long run. Get adequate rest. When you wake up, your mind and body will feel fresh and energized and you will be able to accomplish a lot more in lot less time. A lot of you know this but still don’t go to bed in time. Have faith and do it for a month. If you don’t notice a difference, you can always go back to your old ways, although I doubt you will need to.

If you look at it, what’s in play here is the law of attraction, or intention, or whatever you want to call it. When you focus positively on the things you like, you invite them into your life. Try to avoid focusing on diseases, guilt, fear of non-conformity and getting them instead.

Feel healthy!

One comment

  • September 16, 2010 - 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I am happy that you have written an article focusing on key things like happiness and mental well being specially in a time when we are bombarded with conforming to either “size zero” or maintaining “six pack abs”. The three areas affecting health has also been written quite well. And sharing my own experience, earlier I used to sleep at 2/3 in the morning and used to feel lethargic throughout the day, but now I feel more energized when I see the different shades of the sky in the morning.
    Nice work and would like to read such positive articles.

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